Ironman Barcelona 2018 – Jo Lynch

The Battle of Barcelona

Why Barcelona again? A question I got asked a lot over the past 12 months. 2 reasons really. Firstly, Mairead had signed up! It would be her first, and having just come from that experience I knew how tough and lonely Ironman training is. There was no big pulse crew going and I just couldn’t let her go through it alone. My second reason was that I knew I had more in me over that course. I had already decided to do another Ironman so it made sense to give Barcelona one final lash.

And so training began really in January. I had targeted Challenge Lisbon as an early season A race. It’s a 70.3 and I wanted to train properly for one as the ones I had done previously were all part of IM build. I had a great day at Lisbon, just missing out on an AG podium but qualifying for the Challenge world championships. It was at this point I decided to get a coach. I figured I needed someone to push me on to the next level. I had already been working with Cillian Moffatt all winter at his turbo sessions. We have the same approach to training and he already knew my bike fitness (still shite!) so he was the obvious choice. We knuckled down to a training program with the target being a good sub 12. Training went well, and bar a viral infection the week of my long run, not much went wrong. All the numbers were pointing to a great day in Barca.

Arriving into Barca the skies and sea were blue! So far so good, right?!

It was at this point that Mairead tells me she’s the queen of rain 🙈 it was predicting a poor day weather wise for race day but I brushed it off, totally convinced it would all be alright on the night! However it turns out she is actually the queen of rain and the night before the race none of us slept, as the thunder and lightening and rain was so loud!!!!

Up and at it for race day. On the way to transition, had to take shelter for 20mins due to a torrential downpour. 20mins less in transition and no time for relaxing! I’m one of the last out and myself and Mairead head off to the swim start! Back of the 1.05’s is where we’ve been told to go! I’m nothing if not confident 😂

People around me are already shivering and have a look of fear on them as we look out at what has to be the worst swim conditions I’ve ever seen! Giant swells. This was going to be half swimming, half body surfing. I felt for less confident swimmers. It was gonna be a rough day. Its just like Killiney on a bad day was what I had to tell myself. A bit of AC/DCs thunderstruck (an apt choice for the day) and off we went and immediately I get dragged off course by the current. The entire swim is a battle with the swell dragging swimmers over and under me. Having to stop constantly to wait for the swell to go down to see if you can spot a buoy, I’m out in 1.21. Hardest swim of my life. A walk to transition to settle myself and I spot Dazz Hughes! “Good swim Jo??!” 😂😂 “grand day for a dip Dazz” 👍

Onto the bike and I’m insanely jealous of those ahead of me who packed arm warmers. I’m bloody freezing!! A granny pace through the town as the streets are flooded and out onto the bike course proper. It’s raining and a bit windy. The new bike course sees a lovely long 8km drag up a motorway pass. Sucking any avg speed and power I had built up, it was the type of drag that slows you down going up, but magically you don’t gain back your time coming back 🤔. A tough bike for me really and it’s were it started to slip away. Onto the second loop and I spot some Pulsers which is always a good thing. Also spot some cheaters, with 2 lads choosing to not bother with that aul slow hill and just cut it off completely!!! IM had no timing mat at the top of the turnaround so they knew they wouldn’t get caught. As bad as the drafting was, this was worse. This race is really a cheaters paradise! Back to Calella a good 30mins off target. The head is low and now it’s super hot. FFS….this day!!! It’s at this point in a race, when the target is gone, that defines you. I decided I just had to try and run the best marathon I could and hope to come as close to 12 as I could get. I just couldn’t give up. So off I went into the oven! Sponges down the bra to help keep the temp down. Settled into a pace, and then the rains came…..and they never stopped. More cheaters spotted, this time cutting off the dog leg of the run! Again no timing mat or marshals so nothing to stop them. A joke! I dunno how people can take a medal knowing they cheated. And it’s not like they’re close to Kona slots or anything! Last lap and with a quick pep talk from Dazz and with poor Claire and Jono waiting at the finish chute for me getting absolutely drenched, I try to put the hammer down for the last 10km as best I can. All done in 12.14.59. That .59 is important!!

Not the day I’d hoped and trained for but getting into the recovery area and discovering approx 300 people never made it through the swim puts a lot of perspective on things. It’s still a pb (can you have pb’s when it’s only 2 races? 🤔) and as the days pass I take more and more positives from the race. This distance tests every part of you both physically and mentally and I’m proud I didn’t give up on myself when it all started to turn south on me.

A massive thank you to my coach Cillian, for all the support. The support crew of Claire And Jono, Dazz,all the families and all the other Pulsers. Time for some rest and reflection on where to from here. Challenge 70.3 world champs in Slovakia in June is next up. I love Ironman racing but whether to still go to IM Cork or not is to be decided. I don’t like IMs in bad weather! Stay tuned……

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